From Jim Sheperd’s 8/1 Outdoor Wire:
The second annual Professional Outdoor Media Association Business Conference gets underway this week in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. As POMA holds its second sessions, officers and members alike say they are looking forward to the future and trying hard to get past the fact that they owe their existence to a major schism in the long-established Outdoor Writers Association of America.
It’s difficult to move through old wounds, especially when they’re not nearly healed with many on either side of the issue. But the organization’s certainly trying.
Their sessions are focusing on issues that have largely been ignored: the modern changes in communications and the impacts on traditional media is one. How to market to and communicate with the upcoming younger generations is another.
They’re also doing the “usuals” at any media conference- trying out new products, sharing ideas and generally conversing about the topics that must be kept in front of the general public- public access to hunting lands, the battles over what are sometimes useless and downright silly regulations, and the ongoing battles over firearms and ammunition.
Since its founding in 2005, more than 270 Media Members and 140 Corporate Partners have come together in the organization, dedicated to defending, supporting and promoting the heritage of hunting, fishing, shooting and traditional outdoor sports through writing, photography and “other means.” Their efforts, like those of all organizations in the outdoors who have taken a longer view, are all dedicated to preserving our outdoor heritage.
As they gather, however, there are more storm clouds gathering on our horizon. Earlier this week, eBay, the ubiquitous online sellers of virtually anything announced a decision to prohibit listings of any “firearm part that is required for the firing of a gun.”
Sounds a bit nebulous, but the announcement from Matt Halprin, eBay Vice President of Trust & Safety expanded to include “bullet tips, brass casings and shells, barrels, slides, cylinders, magazines, firing pins, trigger assemblies, etc.”
Some of the items purchased on eBay may have been used in the tragedy at Virginia Tech in April 2007. Consequently, writes Halprin, eBay felt that revising their policies was not only “necessary, but the right thing to do.”So, after what Halprin calls “much consideration” eBay has decided to “further restrict more of these items than federal and state regulations require.”
There are other places where gun owners can acquire parts and pieces for their firearms, but eBay’s decision effectively shuts gun owners off from mainstream online commerce.
Is this a deliberate act to increasingly marginalize firearms owners? Probably not.
It’s more than likely simply a knee-jerk reaction of a company that has been playing a corporate game I call Blamestorming. In Blamestorming, corporate officers sit around and worry about possible problems. You know, someone asks: “what if something we sold was used at Virginia Tech?” The next thing you know, a corporate directive says anything related to guns must go. Narrowing the prohibition to the components that make a firearm a firearm looks innocuous enough, but the edict is broad enough to have effectively used public safety as a shield to intentionally discriminate against a large number of law-abiding citizens. Besides, other firearms-related materials were already no-nos on Ebay.
The most disconcerting thought, however, was the throw-away line that concluded Halprin’s announcement. “This new update,” he wrote, “continues to encourage safety among our community members and brings our polices in the U.S. and Canada in closer alignment with our existing policies in other markets around the globe.”